2014 Velocity Cross: Happy Happy, Fun Fun

I suppose there is an advantage to being less well known in the blogosphere - it means not having to suffer the slings and arrows of race announcers. Poor Seth Davison took some ridicule today - the suggestion being tossed out that maybe someone could provide a little assistance, helping him to lift his bike over the barriers.

But that was later in the day, the old guys were on the course and well, l you know how it is. A couple laps into a race, a couple laps during which the grass conspires to suck every half mile per hour of hard-earned speed from your wheels, as it sucks your legs dry of energy, an older guy might very well look around for some help, or at least a little sympathy. Not that there is much chance of finding a sympathetic spectator at a cross race.

once again Amanda Nauman graces the top step of a cyclocross podium

There was a little organizational change at Velocity Cross - this year's race was not a part of the Southern California Prestige Series, but rather served as the kickoff race in the Spyclocross Series. Other than that, though, everything was pretty familiar, from the host team - Team Velocity, to the venue - Prado Regional Park, to the course layout - the series of stepped athletic fields. 

Fog. It was still settled over and into Prado Basin on this early morning, a condition which made the fragrance rising from the surrounding dairy lots all the more pungent. The sheen on the grass was yet to evaporate, the sparkle still to be ground out by the passing of tire and tread. Yet even at this early hour the paths of racers was unmistakable - here and there dark tracks sliced through the silver, some single tracks, others wide swaths of unknown number. It did not take much, a single passing through that moisture to cause a mat to form on tires, between treads, a shaggy, but slick, beard of green. Of course, this is inland and the fog does not hang out long, even in this low-lying basin. Only the earliest races, the Juniors and Cat 4 Women would have to deal with the dew. By the time the oldest Juniors came out, as well as the single-speeders, at about 10:00, the sun had been out for a couple hours, the ground was mostly dry, and the day well on its way to warming up.

The day. It progressed like a Japanese game show - Happy Happy, Fun Fun. Repeat it as a mantra over and over and it might come true. Even the Spy banners encouraged the sentiment - See Happy, See Happy. Falter in the conviction, lose faith, or even forget to pack it with your kit and shoes to begin with, and you were bound to suffer. The 180º changes in direction, the grass, the infield dust, the off-camber turns, the speed of competition, the dismounts, running, leaping, cyclocross has its own hells to ensnare you if you weaken in resolve.

The Elite Women's race was an amazing one to witness, not for the closeness of battle, but to see how far Amanda Nauman could extend her lead. She is such a phenomenal and powerful racer, and right now is racing in an outrageously dominant fashion. And I don't say that lightly - consider the competition, the racers taking their places on the 2nd and 3rd steps of the podium. Christina Probert-Turner has been well-placed in Southern California's cyclocross races for as long as I have been following them. Holly Breck regularly claims that top step in Southern California's road and mountain bike racing scenes. Neither should be underestimated, yet here was Nauman pulling further away with each completed lap.

The third weekend of the season is on record now, and though the weather will (hopefully) begin to cool down soon, I expect the racing will only heat up. Click for the Flickr album of a selection of 108 photos.